On the whim of desperation for a holiday, my partner and I booked a 7 night holiday to Phuket via Scoopon travel. We were dubious as to what we were getting ourselves in for but at $1,000 each including flights, 7 nights accommodation at 4.5 star resort Cape Sienna resort, cocktails on arrival, a cocktail each at their Vanilla Sky Bar, a 45 minute massage and a three course meal at the poolside restaurant we weren’t complaining!
Flights were with Air Malaysia, stopping off at Kuala Lumpur. With the time difference, we were up for nearly 24 hours travel!
We were picked up by our private car (organised through Scoopon when booking our flights). We were starving and our driver was so lovely, taking us to a local restaurant called ‘The Black Cat’ where I jumped on the opportunity to have fresh young coconut juice and my first authentic Pad Thai. It was delicious but perhaps nothing more special than what I could get from an authentic Melbourne Thai eatery.
Finally arriving at our resort we were welcomed with an ultra sweet drink and the choice of one of four scents to be the theme for our body lotion, soaps and shampoo. Our room was much bigger than we expected with a lounge chair, decent tv, rainwater shower, and balcony. The bed was comfy too!
Day 1: exploring the local area
A Groupon (associated Scoopon firm) travel agent met us in the morning after we enjoyed a buffet breakfast of hot food and fresh fruit. She told us all the different activities we could do in Phuket and informed us that Groupon aren’t allowed to take commission from sales, which meant that buying tours through them were cheaper. We were skeptical so took all her brochures and checked online and she was right! It was substantially cheaper for most tours. We booked four tours for our week ahead: Anda Adventure Tour, Phuket Panwa Canoe VIP boat tour, June Bahtra sunset cruise and a Phi Phi Island Tour by Seastar.
With our week ahead largely sorted, it was time to go relax. We walked for over two hours along the shoreline from our hotel to the nice part of Kamala beach, Laem Singh and Surin beach.
We experienced an incredible, locally authentic green papaya salad with crab with piña coladas down on the Laem Singh coastline (note: steep walkway to get to secluded beach). Surin beach had some lux experiences on offer with the Catch Beachclub making me feel like a celebrity (although be warned – Australian prices apply). A one hour Thai massage on the beachfront had us completely relaxed, and at 300-500 baht (~$10-16AUD) we were well into holiday mode!
Day 2: Anda Adventure tour
An early morning pickup from the hotel and a 1.5 hour bus ride took us to the first stop off for our adventure: the Wat Tham Suwan Khuha cave, also known as the ‘monkey cave’ or ‘Buddha cave’. It costed 20 baht (~$0.60 AUD) to enter the Buddhist cave, but strangely, the main attraction here was the plenitude of grossly over fed wild monkeys. For 100 baht (~$3 AUD) we purchased some bananas and peanuts to feed the swarms of grabby big, medium and baby monkeys. It was a 30 minute stop of which we spent 25 minutes feeding monkeys and 5 minutes rushing through the caves, which I wish we spent more time in!
After another 30 minutes in the bus we arrived at the Anda Adventure campsite, where we immediately hopped into the back of a truck to ride on the back of elephants. We spent about thirty minutes on a chair tied to the back of an old, gentle elephant which I fondly named Harry, going up and down what felt like rather legitimate jungle terrain. The elephant guide encouraged my partner to sit on the elephants head for photos, where he stayed for the rest of the ride! Needless to say I was jealous!
Next we did the ropes course. It was hard on the feet, arms and hands and the course itself didn’t feel entirely safe, as parts of the supporting wires had broken off from ware. It was still safe, but it wasn’t particularly reassuring that the course wasn’t being maintained. The flying fox back from the ropes course was anti-climatical and I was just grateful to be done with the course. There are different Anda Adventure tours, and we chose the A1 tour. I would probably recommend a tour that doesn’t include the ropes course.
We broke for lunch and enjoyed some non-spicy Thai food including Cashew Chicken. It was tasty and the people serving us were lovely.
After lunch it was time to go ATV driving. As it was just a few of us we all got a vehicle each and we were off for a thirty minute drive. There were no roll cages on the ATV’s and I must admit that as cool and exhilarating it was to drive them, I did feel like my safety was at risk a few times. The courses were really rocky (which was fun!), but at times very steep with heavily dug in, poorly maintained tracks. The engines get very hot and the side of it were exposed. Since there is no mention to bring / wear pants, I was wearing shorts and was hyper aware to avoid burns.
Next up was white water rafting which was the funnest bit of the trip. Although the brochure says ‘brief training’ there was none to be had. We were handed paddles, helmets and life jackets before being popped onto a raft with two amazing white water rafters who pretty much did all the work. They were playful, funny and heaps of fun pulling over on the river encouraging us to have a quick swim in the water. So refreshing!
After the drying off we were then shuttled around to our final destination: a baby elephant show. They were so cute and talented, doing tricks like playing basketball and giving people massages!
On the bus ride home, some other tourists mentioned the Phuket Night Market which runs only on the weekends. Given that it was a Sunday, we decided that, despite being exhausted, we would pop down and take a look. After all, who knows when we’ll next be back? The night markets were definitely worth the visit, with a huge food section. We ate all the different street food and didn’t get sick at all. The food was usually cooked fresh or made hot on the spot to avoid any trouble. Definitely recommended!
…And in case you are wondering.. yes, they are bugs!